After a boy learns that his friend, Father Flynn, has passed away, the boy visits Father Flynn’s home with his aunt, where they pray with Flynn’s sister Nannie. They discuss his life with his other sister, Eliza, who has recollections of Father Flynn’s increasingly strange behavior prior to his death.
A boy explains the games he and his friends play. Desiring more concrete adventures, he organizes a plan to skip school and walk through Dublin. Mahony joins, and as they start walking, they are berated by poor children who think they are Protestants. The boys meet an older man who reminisces about his boyhood and asks if they have many girlfriends, a question that prompts the narrator to take note of the man’s peculiar appearance and behavior. When Mahony leaves to chase after a cat, the man says that boys who talk to girls should be whipped, and the narrator announces that he must depart.
Mangan’s sister, whom the narrator is infatuated with, asks if he is going to Araby, the Dublin bazaar. She cannot attend, so the narrator offers to bring her something from the bazaar. Next day, the narrator waits impatiently for his uncle to return home to give him train fare, but his uncle does not arrive until very late. When the narrator finally arrives at Araby, he approaches one of the few stalls still open, but decides against buying anything, leaving him standing angrily as the lights go out.
Eveline reminisces on her life, including her childhood, her abusive father, and the prospect of moving away with her lover, Frank. Eveline holds two letters, one to her father and one to her brother, and she thinks about her mother and how perhaps her life at home is not all that bad. Eveline hears a street organ and recalls how her mother lived a sad life, which in turn leads her to embrace her decision to escape with Frank. At the docks, however, Eveline wavers and remains in Dublin.
“After the Race”
Following a car race, Jimmy Doyle rides home with his wealthy French friend, Charles Ségouin, Ségouin’s cousin, and a pianist, and he thinks about a recent investment he made in Ségouin’s motor-company. The group has dinner and is joined by an Englishman named Routh, who becomes upset when Jimmy brings up Irish-English relations. Farley invites the group to a yacht, where Jimmy, after losing more money playing cards, maintains his gregarious spirit, though he knows he will regret his loss the next day.
Lenehan and Corley walk through Dublin, discussing a plot to convince a maid to procure money from her employer’s home. The men meet with the maid and make plans to meet later that night, then Lenehan stops in a bar where he ruminates about his life. After, he meets with Corley and the maid, and Corley shows Lenehan a gold coin, suggesting that the plan was successful.
“The Boarding House”
Mrs. Mooney opens a boarding house after separating from her husband, and she lives with her son and daughter, Polly, who develops a relationship with one of the lodgers. Mrs. Mooney plans to confront the man, Mr. Doran, and ask him to marry Polly. Anxious about the impending meeting with Mrs. Mooney, Mr. Doran contemplates whether he should marry Polly or run away. The story ends with Mrs. Mooney calling for Polly, who says Mr. Doran wishes to speak with her.
“A Little Cloud”
On the day of Little Chandler’s meeting with an old friend (Ignatius Gallaher), he contemplates his friend’s writing career and laments his own stunted aspirations. Little Chandler recoils at the unhealthy sight of his friend but cherishes his stories. When the conversation turns to Little Chandler’s own life, he is embarrassed but invites Gallaher to meet his family, only to be turned down as Gallaher has another appointment. Little Chandler returns home and reflects on his life, only to be interrupted by his wife who scolds him and snatches their crying baby from his arms.
Farrington, a clerk in a law firm, is scolded by one of the partners, Mr. Alleyne, for not completing his work, which infuriates Farrington who has made plans to drink with his friends later. Farrington finds the chance to run out for a quick drink, only to be critiqued again by Mr. Alleyne, leading Farrington to insult his boss and meet his friends at the bar. Farrington grows upset by the amount of money he spends and is further irritated after losing an arm-wrestling match. He returns home to discover that his wife is at church and his dinner is not ready, leading him to beat his son out of frustration.
Maria, a maid at a charity that houses troubled women, prepares to meet with the family of Joe Donnelly. At Joe’s home, they talk about the past and about Joe’s brother, Alphy, with whom Joe has had a falling out. When neighbor girls lead Maria to touch a saucer with a mound of wet clay on it, a sign that represents early death, Joe’s wife scolds the girls for playing the ominous game, but the festivities continue until Maria sings a song that moves Joe to tears.
“A Painful Case”
Mr. Duffy, a bank cashier, begins a friendship with a married woman named Mrs. Sinico. Mrs. Sinico confuses Mr. Duffy’s friendship as sexual advances, and Mr. Duffy is forced to call off their relationship. Four years later, Mr. Duffy reads an article that details the death of Mrs. Sinico. Mr. Duffy, at first disturbed, realizes that he lost the only love he ever experienced.
“Ivy Day in the Committee Room”
Mat O’Connor and Old Jack meet to drink and talk politics, when they are joined by Joe Hynes, who is critical of their employer, Richard Tierney, who is running for the office of Lord Mayor. After Hynes leaves, another canvasser, John Henchy, expresses his suspicions that Hynes is an informer for a candidate running against Tierney. Hynes returns and asks O’Connor to read a poem that celebrates the late politician Parnell, and all the men applaud.
Mr. Holohan enlists the services of Mrs. Kearney’s daughter, Kathleen, to play the piano at a concert. Mrs. Kearney, upset by the poor turnout, approaches Mr. Holohan after learning that the committee plans to cancel the third concert in the hopes of creating interest for the final performance, and asks him if the contract payment will still be honored. After being shrugged off, Mrs. Kearney detains Kathleen from performing until they are paid in full.
Tom Kernan awakens in a pub after falling down a flight of stairs, and his friend, Jack Power, escorts him to a carriage, wherein it is revealed that Kernan has recently hit a rough patch. Power ensures Kernan’s wife that he will help him get his life back together. Kernan’s friends visit his home and reveal their plans to convince Kernan, a former Protestant who converted to Catholicism, to join a Catholic retreat.
Kate and Julia Morkan host an annual party. They await the arrival of their favorite nephew, Gabriel Conroy, and his wife Gretta, but when he arrives, he grows anxious. Dancing ensues, which pairs Gabriel with Miss Ivors, who accuses Gabriel of writing literary reviews for a conservative newspaper and for having little interest in his own country. At dinner, Gabriel gives a speech about the importance of rejoicing in the present, and later recounts a story about his grandfather and his horse, while Gretta stands transfixed by a song being sung in the drawing room, which makes Gabriel curious about his wife’s behavior. When she confesses the song reminded her of a former lover, Gabriel contemplates his own mortality.